Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why I did it, Part the sixth

"Signing up" of course, did not mean "Actually publishing things". In reality I signed up, clicked my way through all their contracts (Which I read and researched very carefully) and then closed all the windows and had a good long cry.

And then went back to researching KDP. And contracts. And self publishing.

I'd run into the name Amanda Hocking long before I got to this point, usually mentioned with a roll of the eyes and a "Can you believe this shit?" attitude. This time I found her posts about actually DOING self publishing and paid attention to what happened early on. She published a book and it sold. She published another book and it sold a little more. She kept doing this until she started making thousand-dollar days.

A light went on.

I researched a few more successful self publishers.

I cried a lot more.

Thing was, I didn't want to do this. Everything I had researched, everyone I had talked to, EVERYTHING told me self-publishing was the biggest mistake an author could make. You just couldn't succeed at that game. It wasn't worth it.


The one thing the April incident had shown me was I was not going to succeed. I wanted an advocate, you see. I wanted somebody to help me, to guide me, to be something between a friend and a business partner. I wanted somebody else to tap me on the shoulder and say "Hey. You're not just good enough. You're incredible."

And I wasn't going to get that.

I was not going to get the six figure book deal. I was not going to get the movie. I was not going to get the big fan base.

I believed that self-publishing would be losing everything. Agents do not want to talk to self published writers. Publishers do not want to deal with our awful track records. Do that, I believed, and you're dead in the water. Not just now, but forever. Not just with this book project, but with all of them.

But that's where I was. Burned out. Done. I was at the point where I had nothing, absolutely nothing left to lose. Why not throw it all away? Following the rules hadn't gotten me anywhere. What if we started breaking them?

But it's losing everything, my sick little brain countered. 

And there was another factor. If there is a God (and obviously I believe there is) then he'd just dragged me through the hardest experience of my life, and I had to figure out why. How, if this had quit being my test and become God's, could the April Incident factor into anything?

I got to go to church again at the end of May. This was twice in two months. Almost a record.

This time the sermon was on Elijah.

Elijah is not quite Baby's First Bible Book. We're talking third grade reading material now, with the bits about human sacrifice and cutting expunged as being too awful for little eyes. But it's still an incredibly well traversed part of the scriptures. How well known is this book? The other two major figures in it are King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.

Today's fare was the part where Elijah and the priests of Baal have their final show down. The Priests of Baal number in the hundreds. There's just one Elijah. There are two huge piles of rock and wood and cow AKA Alters, and whoever gets theirs lit first has the real God, they get to live and they get to make the rain come. Because, OH YEAH, it hasn't fucking rained in Israel for three years.

Oh, but the twist is that God has to light the fire on his own. From the sky.

Baal's priests line up. They pray. Nothing happens. They pray more. More nothing happens. They start cutting themselves. Elijah starts saying things like "Shout louder, maybe Baal's taking a piss" (I swear to God, that is in the Bible) and the Priests of Baal give up. It's now Elijah's turn to make fire from the sky. He turns to his servants, jerks a thumb at the altar, and says "Pour water on it."

They do.

"Pour more water on it."

They do. Again.

"Great. Pour more water on it."

Now the wood and rocks and cow are all soaking wet. Elijah gets on his knees and prays for God to light the pile of wet stuff on fire, and so much fire comes that the fucking ground disappears. And like most bible stories, it ends with Elijah killing all the priests of Baal because Game of Thrones has got nothing on the Old Testament.

All I remember is the bible story because, again, I am so far out of it I probably need to be in some inpatient program. But I start thinking: Pour water on it.

It's God's test. Not mine. And the one thing I know about God is that when he does something, he waits. He waits until everyone else has tried and failed. He waits until their cousins try. He waits until chance is gone, fate has given up, and destiny's in Denver...and then, just to make it obvious that this is no human agency, that there is no way any human being could have made this work (and thus, take the credit for making it happen), he pours water on it.

A lot of water.

And then he makes it happen.

It's now pushing June of '12, and I realize that I can neither give up nor justify continuing to try for trade publishing. That door has been profoundly shut, by both my personal beliefs and my sincerely fucked up mind. That leaves just one way. Self Publishing. Which in my mindset at the time wasn't pouring water on the altar. It was putting the altar under the fucking ocean.

So. Could I stop writing?


Could I try submitting again?

Not just no, but HELL no.

Fine. Then that left me one choice: Pour water on it.

I went home and I wrote out The Plan.

1 comment:

  1. When you were told to trunk that novel, did you? I ask because we all have novels that can't be salvaged, but it doesn't mean we are hopeless as writers. That's where revision comes in. But I think you're right to question traditional publishing. Goodness knows I have many issues with the way they tend to do things. That's why I started a small press, so I see where you're coming from I think.